Bronze Age monument discovered in Forest of Dean using airborne laser scanning could have been ritual BURIAL ground, archaeologist claims

  • Dating back to 2,000 BC the ritual ring was found during a LiDAR laser scan 
  • Archaeologist Jon Hoyle discovered site, near Tidenham, Gloucestershire
  •  The ‘very significant’ Bronze Age monument was hidden in the Forest of Dean

A ‘very significant’ discovery of a Bronze Age monument has been uncovered after being hidden under foliage in the Forest of Dean.

Dating back to about 2,000 BC the circular ritual ring was found during a LiDAR laser scan of the area.

The findings, known as a ring cairn, consist of a circular bank with limestone standing stones.

Archaeologist Jon Hoyle discovered the site, near the village of Tidenham, Gloucestershire, which he first believed could be a World War Two gun emplacement due to its ‘extremely circular’ nature. 

Archaeologist Jon Hoyle said nobody knows precisely what ring cairns were used for. An artists impression of the 2,000 BC the circular ritual ring

Archaeologist Jon Hoyle said nobody knows precisely what ring cairns were used for. An artists impression of the 2,000 BC the circular ritual ring

Dating back to about 2,000 BC the circular ritual ring was found during a LiDAR laser scan of the area

Dating back to about 2,000 BC the circular ritual ring was found during a LiDAR laser scan of the area

This is the only Bronze Age monument of its type to be discovered in Gloucestershire, however the cairns are common in Derbyshire, Northumberland and Wales, said Mr Hoyle.

 Mr Hoyle told the BBC: ‘It was very exciting. I was expecting to find quite a lot of new sites with the LiDAR, but nothing as interesting as this.’

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Adding: ‘Nobody knows precisely what they were used for. 

‘Some have been found in association with burials, and often there appear to be residues of charcoal in places like this, suggesting rituals that involved fire.’ 

This is the only Bronze Age monument of its type to be discovered in Gloucestershire, however the cairns are common in Derbyshire, Northumberland and Wales

This is the only Bronze Age monument of its type to be discovered in Gloucestershire, however the cairns are common in Derbyshire, Northumberland and Wales

Archaeologist Jon Hoyle discovered the site, near the village of Tidenham, Gloucestershire

Archaeologist Jon Hoyle discovered the site, near the village of Tidenham, Gloucestershire

The large ring is about 80ft wide and contains a circular bank formed with rubble that is 16ft wide.  

White limestone standing stones were found on top of the bank, about 3ft high each.’

LiDAR (light detection and ranging) can be used to expose structures hidden by folliage or other structures by bouncing light off a target to measure distances and build a 3D map.

The archaeologist first believed the ring could be a World War Two gun emplacement due to its 'extremely circular' nature

The archaeologist first believed the ring could be a World War Two gun emplacement due to its ‘extremely circular’ nature

WHAT IS LIDAR TECHNOLOGY AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

LiDAR (light detection and ranging) is a remote sensing technology that measures distance by shooting a laser at a target and analysing the light that is reflected back.

The technology was developed in the early 1960s and uses laser imaging with radar technology that can calculate distances.

It was first used in meteorology to measure clouds by the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The term lidar is a portmanteau of ‘light and ‘radar.’

Lidar uses ultraviolet, visible, or near infrared light to image objects and can be used with a wide range of targets, including non-metallic objects, rocks, rain, chemical compounds, aerosols, clouds and even single molecules.

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A narrow laser beam can be used to map physical features with very high resolution. 

This new technique allowed researchers to map outlines of what they describe as dozens of newly discovered Maya cities hidden under thick jungle foliage centuries after they were abandoned by their original inhabitants.

Aircraft with a Lidar scanner produced three-dimensional maps of the surface by using light in the form of pulsed laser linked to a GPS system. 

The technology helped researchers discover sites much faster than using traditional archaeological methods. 



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